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Flood victims, down but not out on Diwali


Prabhakar Kumar,CNN-IBN
Oct 28, 2008 at 01:17am IST

Patna: It may be Diwali in the rest of the world but for the people in a relief camp in Purnia district of Bihar, the aftermath of the floods lives on.

As the Kosi breached its banks and inundated homes and farmlands, people who lost all their belongings and homes.

With little or no money in their kitty, Diwali celebrations are the farthest thing on their minds. But CNN-IBN’s team was delighted to find that children will be children, everywhere.

Jitendra Kumar, a man who has taken refuge in a relief camp along with his family has some plans in place for a humble celebration.

A few earthen candles will light Jitendra Kumar's home this Diwali. Home is a tent in a Purnia relief camp, where he and his family will stay for at least another 6 months.

His children celebrate but for Jitendra and thousands like him, displaced in the Bihar floods, it will be a dark Diwali.

“How can one explain to these innocent and ignorant kids that we are flood-victims. So to keep their cheer, we emptied out whatever was in our pockets and have given them money to buy Diwali goodies and firecrackers,” said Jitendra.

Similar is the case with Chumiya Devi’s family. But her misery is compounded by the fact that her sons are ill. “Where is the spirit of Diwali? It is the farthest thing on my mind now. Where and how will we celebrate Diwali? My kids are in pain and are suffering so Diwali is not an option at all,” said Chumiya Devi.

The local market has a dull trade too. Sonu Kumar, a shopkeeper recounted that his sales would touch two lakhs every year. This year he has managed only a tenth of the sales.

Thankfully, the children still have the spark and desire to make a go of the national festival. “We are going to eat lots of sweet meats, burst crackers and celebrate Diwali!” said Dipti, a girl child at the camp.

But elders who stare into a bleak future are left devastated. For these flood-devastated people, life's priorities have changed. Every one of them aches to have their own roof over their heads, a job and a secure future. Celebrations can wait.

“What kind of Diwali would it be when there is no house, no lamps, no oil for the lamps!” said Pramila Kumari.

“When Dussehra was dry and drab, I have no hopes about Diwali,” said a dejected Subhash Yadav.

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